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Smith up to his old tricks as he heaps praise on new-look Blues

Queensland are up to their old tricks again. If it wasn't enough with talk around players carrying injuries or being quarantined, now arguably the greatest Maroon of all time has turned to heaping praise on NSW.

Cameron Smith, who has arrived in Perth for Sunday's match at Optus Stadium, has declared the controversial NSW team selected for game two is better than the team they picked in the opening game of the series.

The Maroons have been the masters of deflecting attention and while Smith is no longer inflicting damage as a player, he hasn't forgotten the rules.

While Smith echoed popular sentiments in regards to shock around Latrell Mitchell's omission, he believes the other changes Fittler has made will pose a greater threat to the Maroons as they look to clinch the series in Perth.

"It is a very different-looking Blues side this time around and I feel it is a stronger Blues team," Smith said.

"I know there were a few eyebrows raised with Latrell Mitchell not being there. That was a surprise for me too given the X-factor that is around him. [But] as a whole I feel as though they are a much more complete footy side.

"When you add the likes of [Tom] Trbojevic and Dale Finucane, playing his first game, he is a guy that has been involved in five grand finals and knows what big games are about. He is a no-frills player and he is what I think the Blues need in this match."

Maroons v Blues - Origin II

While Smith was quite complimentary of the Blues, he fired a warning shot in regards to the potential of Queensland skipper and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans.

Smith believes injury limited the No.7's running game in the series opener and expects to see more of it in game two, but the Blues insist they are ready to combat Cherry-Evans.

"We'll be ready for anything," Blues skipper Boyd Cordner said.

"If he wants to run we have our plans in place to stop that. His impact on the game is going to be big so the more we can limit his options and time, the better for us."

The Blues welcome back a capable running half of their own in James Maloney.

Despite being overlooked for the opening game of the series for Cody Walker, and almost again in game two for Mitchell Pearce before injury denied the Knights No.7, it's like Maloney never left.

He has been running the show at training and as usual is the loudest and most consistent voice in the team.

His inclusion is deemed pivotal if NSW are to keep the series alive ahead of game three in Sydney, and Cordner admits his presence was quickly felt.

"He looks like he belongs," Cordner said.

"The demeanour and calm personality, I think it just suits this game. The whole week leading up is really serious and the whole idea of Origin is intense.

"It is easy to get carried away with that, even when you are training. When you have guys like Jimmy who are nice and relaxed, you take a breath and go 'it is not that bad'."

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